Ibrahima Diallo has a decision to make, and his choice will come in the next couple weeks.
The 6-foot-11 Senegalese center, who plays for Prolific Prep in California, will either attend Ohio State or Pittsburgh. Both schools have offered him scholarships, and they're Diallo's two finalists. Stockrisers' Jake Weingarten first reported the final two schools, and The Athletic's Bill Landis first reported the Buckeyes' offer.
Diallo received his offer after visiting Ohio State on the weekend of March 9 and 10, and he came away impressed with the program, said Billy McKnight, Diallo's coach at Prolific Prep.
"I know he had a great trip," Billy McKnight said on Tuesday. "On his trip to Ohio State he was super impressed with facilities and the general welcoming he got out there from a lot of different people. Was very impressed with the basketball program, and he's going to have a tough decision to make."
A couple weeks prior to his trip to Columbus, Diallo visited Pittsburgh.
In late February, Diallo told Eleven Warriors he'll make his decision by the end of March, and he's sticking with that plan. Though a decision is near, no date has been set.
"I think he's probably starting to head toward that, but we don't have an exact timeline as of right now," McKnight said.
Both the Buckeyes and Panthers have needs in their frontcourts.
During Kaleb Wesson's three-game absence due to a suspension at the end of the regular season, Ohio State struggled to replace its starting center. The Buckeyes only have one other center – Jaedon LeDee, a 6-foot-9 freshman big man with underdeveloped defensive skills despite a solid offensive game – on their roster.
Diallo doesn't have a polished offensive game, and McKnight said he thought it was fair to call him "raw." Still, he doesn't think that does Diallo's game justice.
"Normally what people are looking at when they look at that is offensively," McKnight said. "Yeah, OK, he might be raw offensively, but defensively he's anything but. So it's kind of one of those things where I guess it depends on what side of the ball you're looking at. Clint Capela with the Houston Rockets, he never does anything except screens and roll and dunk. Is he raw? Well, maybe. But he also understands what he's got to be good at.
"Ibrahima's really embraced his role as far as being that defensive juggernaut for us, cleaning the glass, changing shots, just being super active and then setting great picks in the half-court on offense. Whatever comes to him from that comes to him from that."
Prolific Prep doesn't maintain full-season statistics for each player, but Diallo averaged 11.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game in 10 games on the prep circuit.
He impressed at two games during the Flyin' To The Hoop event in Dayton in front of Ohio State coaches. Diallo had 20 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks in a win against Springfield. Two days later, he had 10 points and five rebounds versus SPIRE Academy while holding five-star forward Isaiah Jackson to six points (3-for-11), six rebounds, three turnovers and three fouls.
Diallo's senior season ended early due to an injury.
"He had a broken bone in his hand he had to get surgery on, and then he had an ankle issue earlier in the year where he turned it and didn't play a whole lot in the beginning," McKnight said. "It was kind of one of those sporadic years with him being on the floor and off it unfortunately, because we're just a completely different team when he played."
If Diallo chooses to become a Buckeye, he would be the fourth player in the team's 2019 recruiting class, which ranks first in the Big Ten and 12th in the country. Three top-50 prospects – four-star point guard DJ Carton and four-star forwards Alonzo Gaffney and E.J. Liddell – have already signed National Letters of Intent.
Due to the transfer of Micah Potter two days before the season, the Buckeyes have an open scholarship. If Diallo committed to Ohio State, the program would have all 13 of its scholarships filled.